Yorkshire Water - supplies drinking water and sewage treatment services to homes and businesses

overall rating:



Elmira Kubenova
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I am aware that people in the UK do not choose their water company, since they get supplied by whichever company is operating in their local area. However, I think it is still important to consider the environmental impact of this industry and compare different companies to see where improvements are possible. Overall, Yorkshire Water seems to be a great company with strong values and a drive for innovation. There are some concerns with leakage and pollution, but this is the case for other companies in the UK as well. I would advise consumers to be mindful of things they flush down their toilets and sinks, since blockages can cause sewage flooding and pollution. I hope my reviews will help people to be mindful of the impact their water usage has on the environment and encourage them to reduce their water usage where possible. Yorkshire Water provides its customers with some free water-saving devices and I would encourage their customers to make good use of them.

What it's made of:


Yorkshire Water complies with British Standards for drinking water, and in 2019, their Overall Mean Zonal Compliance was 99.95%, as compared to an average of 99.96% across England and Wales. In 2019-2020 the amount of water leakage was 8.5 m3 per km of water mains per day, which is in line with the average across England and Wales. However, across the 31,000 km of water mains managed by this company, this sums up to 271 million litres per day. So approximately a fifth of water they process is wasted through leakage. In 2017, they surveyed more than 1,000 of their customers, 68% of whom said that they would agree to increase their bills to reduce the leakage. The following year, Yorkshire Water has published a draft Water Resource Management Plan, where they set themselves an ambitious target to reduce leakage 40% by 2025. However, this was changed to 15% after Ofwat (a group that regulates water and sewerage companies in England and Wales) has stated its new requirements. I find this somewhat concerning, since the draft plan indicates that this company has the capacity to reduce leakage further than that. Currently, Yorkshire Water's efforts to reduce leakage includes implementing a smart water network pilot, using acoustic loggers, pressure loggers and flow meters to identify and repair leaks, as well as trialling remotely operated valves to help isolate burst pipes until they are repaired. They hope to use data analysis to repair issues within 3 hours, which is a significant improvement from their current average of 3 days. I appreciate the company's innovative approach and willingness to try new technologies. 

How it's made:


In 2018-19, Yorkshire Water's gross operational greenhouse gas emissions were 206 kg of CO2e per Ml of treated water, or 220 kg of CO2e per Ml of treated sewage. Along with other water companies, Yorkshire Water is aiming to achieve net zero operational carbon emissions by 2030. In 2020, Yorkshire Water has switched to a 100% renewable electricity tariff certified by UK Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin; this will reduce their emissions by 120,000 tonnes of CO2 per year! This in turn will help all their household and business customers to reduce their carbon emissions. CO2 and other greenhouse gases can contribute to global warming by absorbing radiation from the sun rather than reflecting it. In addition to this, the company is also tackling their capital emissions (from construction and maintenance) and offsetting their emissions through peat bog restoration and planting trees. I liked that the company has also included an analysis of their supply chain emissions, having analysed the full lifecycle of their product. Yorkshire Water is also working to reduce their waste by selling the sand used for water filtration to be used in construction and redevelopment and also using anaerobic digestion to process the sewage sludge into fertilisers and energy. I appreciate Yorkshire Water's holistic approach to addressing their environmental impact.
Unfortunately, Yorkshire Water, along with other water companies in the UK, is struggling with pollution. According to the 2019 Environmental Performance Assessment data report, Yorkshire Water has had 181 incidents of pollution, of which 7 were classified as serious – likely to have a significant impact on the environment. A BBC Panorama investigation is claiming that Yorkshire Water has failed to report some of its sewage spills to the Environment Agency (a public body funded by UK government, responsible for protecting and enhancing the environment in England). The company has responded to the allegations, stating that they will investigate the issue and if that is the case will then report the leaks to the Environment Agency. In 2019 the company has self-reported 73% of pollution incidents to the Agency, which is below the average across the English water sector. I believe there is some room for improvement in this area not just for Yorkshire Water, but for the whole water sector. 

Who makes it:


Yorkshire Water is owned by the Kelda Group – a UK based company jointly owned by GIC Special Investments, Corsair Infrastructure Management, Deutsche Asset Management and SAS Trustee Corporation. Yorkshire Water is the second largest landowner in Yorkshire, owning around 30,000 hectares of land. This company is managing its land sustainably through initiatives like Beyond Nature – leasing their land to farmers for sustainable land management. This involves peat bog and hay meadow restoration, creation of new woodland areas and ponds and engagement with schools and volunteer groups. As well as promoting biodiversity, their efforts aid flood management in the area and help offset their emissions, since both peat bogs and trees absorb a significant amount of carbon. In 2020, one of the farms under this initiative has received a local award from the Royal Society of Chartered Surveyors, recognising the impact of Beyond Nature. Yorkshire Water is planning to become the first water company in the UK to be open by default – they want make their data freely available to public. I appreciate the company's transparency and I feel that the company is quite sustainable overall. In addition to this, Yorkshire Water has been supporting WaterAid for over 40 years, helping raise over £1 million to provide clean drinking water and sanitation to people in Ethiopia. In conclusion, Yorkshire Water seems like a great company with strong values and ambitions.